Galatians 4:13 (NKJV)

13 You know that because of physical infirmity I preached the gospel to you at the first.

In all his other letters Paul's reference to infirmity seemed to be about weaknesses but in Galatians he seemed to be referring to some sort of disease/sickness.

Could Paul have been referring to a physical sickness since in verse 14 he seemed to be alluding to an eye problem


1 Answer 1


ἀσθένεια has a semantic range that includes physical weaknesses, such as those you noted in the title (weaknesses, diseases, sickness), and also soul weaknesses. See G4561.

The use of the word σάρξ (flesh) in this verse indicates that ἀσθένεια is being used in a physical sense. Some scholars believe that this was an eye problem (See this commentary), although opinion is not universal. An interpreter would not be in error to state that Paul was certainly suffering from some kind of physical weakness, and can infer that this would be a sickness of some kind that was noticeable to the Galatians, since they consciously received him in spite of it (Gal. 4:14).

In summary, the text does indicate that this is a severe physical sickness, which very well may be an eye problem.

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